Post by Everton News. on Dec 15, 2016 17:53:17 GMT
Santa Geri Surprises Reds Fan
Everton’s BlueCrimbo Secret Santa series continued this week, with winger Gerard Deulofeu rewarding Jamie, an Everton in the Community participant and Liverpool fan.
Seventeen-year-old Jamie was nominated for the BlueCrimbo Secret Santa surprise by staff on the charity’s Breathing Space programme. Breathing Space is a project delivered by EitC’s Youth Engagement team for 14-19 year olds who are either currently in care or at risk of entering the care system. The project team work with the young people to develop their skills and confidence, helping them gain accredited qualifications and offering them vital volunteering opportunities - as well as one-to-one mentoring.
When Jamie was first referred to the charity earlier this year he was withdrawn, suffering from low confidence and wasn’t attending college or interacting with others. He began attending Breathing Space twice a week and EitC supported him during his move into semi-independent living. Working with the charity’s Youth Engagement staff, Jamie was set a series of short, medium and long-term goals to improve his confidence and support his aspirations to eventually enrol onto sporting qualification courses. Little by little, staff have noticed a change in Jamie.
In the five months he has been supported by EitC, Jamie has completed a Prince’s Trust course and the NCS programme, played football in a tournament at Goodison and passed his FA Level One coaching badge – far exceeding any expectations he had previously had for himself. He has now registered as a volunteer with the charity and donates his Friday evenings to volunteering on the Kicks programme and has recently signed up to a Saturday football team.
And although his allegiances lie with the team from the other side of the park, Jamie couldn’t help but stand in disbelief when he opened the door to the Spain Under-21s captain, who was sporting a Blue Santa hat and armed with gifts. Fan favourite Deulofeu had even brought along a selection of Everton baubles to join the Breathing Space participants in decorating their Christmas tree as he spent the afternoon with Jamie and the EitC team.
Once he had opened his BlueCrimbo presents - which included a course of driving lessons, Umbro sportswear and a pair of signed boots from Geri himself - Jamie wasted no time in accepting an Everton v Liverpool FIFA challenge from the Spaniard who didn’t hold back when it came to celebrating a 2-1 victory for the Toffees courtesy of a last minute winner from Romelu Lukaku.
After surprising Jamie – and beating him at FIFA – Deulofeu said: “I was told of Jamie’s story and the difficult times he has been through and how he is overcoming them and I wanted to meet with him to tell him how proud we all are of him. I know a lot about the great work of Everton in the Community as I am an ambassador for them. We do not care if you support Everton or Liverpool or any other team – we care about the people and making sure they are helped.”
Speaking on being recognised as a BlueCrimbo Secret Santa recipient, Jamie said: “I didn’t really know what to think when I opened the door to Geri and he came inside! I couldn’t believe it when he said he was here to surprise me! It’s no secret that I’m a Liverpool fan but I happily wear the Everton badge every day because I’m so grateful to all that they have done for me.”
Opened in September 2016, 41 Goodison Road is used by the charity’s Youth Engagement team and provides that vital ‘front door’ for young people in crisis to knock at and will provide them with the opportunity to develop key domestic skills and a nurturing environment to coach a young person back into their community.